Alcohol Detox, Natural Detox Treatment Center
Like any treatment for substance addiction, alcohol addiction treatments always start with detoxification. The detox process is slightly different from drug detox simply because there is only one major substance that needs to be removed from the body – ethanol. In drug detox, the substances removed are dependent on the type of drug that the individual was addicted to. Some use heroin and other opioids while others prefer stimulants such as cocaine and crystal meth. Still other individuals use and abuse other drugs. This makes drug detoxification quite challenging.
However, to say that alcohol detox is not challenging is a gross misunderstanding of the effects of ethanol in the human body. Alcohol is primarily processed by the liver. Unfortunately, it can only detoxify a certain amount of alcohol at any given time. As such, any remaining alcohol that is freely circulating in the bloodstream eventually find its way into the brain where it can produce sensations that are interpreted by the reward center of the brain as pleasurable. Over time, the body will simply have to consume more alcohol in order to keep the physiologic drive fully satisfied. Unfortunately in doing so, the individual risks the development of scar tissues in the liver further aggravating the condition. This significantly reduced liver function coupled with abnormally high concentrations of alcohol in the blood and in the brain can lead to dramatic physiologic effects.
Because the body has already grown accustomed to the presence of alcohol, it will go through withdrawal symptoms once the alcohol levels have dropped substantially. An individual undergoing alcohol detox treatment may experience nausea and vomiting, shaking hands, mild anxiety, headache, sweating, and even insomnia. However, this is just the beginning and will usually occur within the first 6 to 12 hours after the last consumption of alcohol.
The next 12 to 48 hours will be very important as more severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms may begin to show. These can include tactile, auditory, or visual hallucinations in a condition called alcoholic hallucinosis. There will also be seizure episodes that, if not managed properly, can result in permanent brain damage. For the next 24 hours or 48 to 72 hours after cessation of alcohol consumption, the individual may suffer delirium tremens which usually peaks within 5 days. During this period, the individual will experience unusually high blood pressures, very rapid and highly irregular heartbeats, increasingly frequent seizure activities with occasional severe tremors in between, and profuse sweating. These are in addition to psychological manifestations that include visual hallucinations, paranoia, confusion, disorientation, and severe anxiety that already borders panic attacks.
The Need for a Well-Managed Alcohol Detox Treatment
Alcohol detoxification requires a more comprehensive approach to the elimination and removal of ethanol from the body. While nutritionally-assisted detox treatment can serve as an invaluable adjunct to conventional alcohol detox programs, a more important modality is the use of medications in the management of the withdrawal symptoms.
Phenytoin may be given to individuals who have pre-existing seizure disorders irrespective of alcohol withdrawal but may be potentiated by their alcohol addiction.
These are just some of the medications that are used in the detoxification of an individual with alcohol addiction. It should be understood that the decision to use such medications is entirely dependent on the severity of the withdrawal symptom.
One very crucial element to alcohol detox is nutritional support. Alcoholics have severe nutritional deficiencies because of the empty calories provided by alcoholic beverages. This leads to impaired digestion and the reduced nutrient absorption in the blood. Which leads to the non-utilization of the nutrients by the cells of the body leading to malnutrition and liver damage. Hence, nutritionally-assisted alcohol detox is an important adjunct to successful medically-assisted alcohol detox programs.